How ennobling it was to belong to a lodge when the government ordered the arrest of all Masons? According to police reports and local intelligence, there existed a vast Masonic network. Here, there, and everywhere, there were cells and committees. The lodge was a clever and shrewd guise for conspiring against the regime! As Bonifacio used Masonry, he also quietly but tirelessly worked the masses.
The masses, whose huts didn’t seem worth searching and who could scarcely write their own names, joined the Katipunan. Though it may seem strange, it took the government more than four years to discover Bonifacio’s activities and the Katipunan. Personal interest and that only, at first, kept Carlos safely in the confines of Ateneo. But after Rizal’s execution, he quickly gained prominence in the shadowy world of the insurrection, first against the Spanish, and later the Americans.
With all of their might, they fought in the chivalrous tradition of ancient times. Without fear and without reproach, they were called upon to rise above the general disorder of passion. I t gave young men such as Carlos an opportunity for heroism. It couldn’t have come at a better time for him.
Early on, the Americans seemed as if they would help the Filipinos regain their inalienable rights. Everyone thought Mr. Aguinaldo had a solid agreement with the Yanks and thousands in each province took on the Spanish forces. Carlos was among them, but unfortunately the siege of Manila stalled because Aguinaldo refused to take command of the operation. That opened the door for General Merritts.
Feeling a sense of duty, Carlos set aside his studies. He boarded a ferry for the port of Cavite, where the wrecks of the Spanish fleet were objects of great interest. (One of them still bore on a strip of canvas with the legible words “Remember the ‘Maine’”) Here Admiral Dewey was handed the keys to an empire. Here he found the fleet he was ordered to remove.
Dewey was loved by Americans without exception and saluted with hallelujahs and “a few words,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “My Country, ’tis of Thee.” There soon appeared Dewey cigars, Deweyville, Deweyburg, and Deweytown. There was a flood of baby boys named Dewey. Girls sang of him, ladies admired him, and widows loved him. And from a ferry, Carlos saw this extraordinary man. He was sitting under the awning of the quarterdeck of his command ship, a revenue cutter. “He was the man in white sitting alone on the McCulloch!”
Finally, a word about the Spanish surrender of the city and how the Americans forced them to surrender without firing a shot. Only the Americans benefited from a pre-arranged deal. Dewey was to give a signal; the Governor General would then hoist a white flag, and the American troops would march into Manila before the Filipinos could. All of which explained why Carlos exploded with anger when he heard about it.
Like him, many Filipinos felt America’s behavior called for hostilities. However, General Aguinaldo, who enjoyed great popularity and in some ways acted the same as a dictator, seemed shy and deferred to his advisors.
Carlos never had the honor of meeting Don Emilio. In fact, such an honor would’ve been impossible since he went to work for the Americans at the Cavite Naval Yard. Although seemingly kindly disposed toward his employer…. docile, amiable, and intelligent…during all this time, Carlos was totally evasive. He re-enacted the part his grandfather played in Sulu. He deserved the admiration and thanks of his countrymen.
Then one Sunday Carlos read the gloating headlines of an American newspaper: “Women Slain in Moro Slaughter.” Those headlines stopped him cold. But instead of blaming Gen. Leonard Wood and the responsible men of the U. S. Army, he harshly examined himself. It was required of him. The facts left him numb; so he quit his job and returned to Zamboanga. (He would’ve gone on to Jolo, if he could’ve.) He was convinced that the truth about the incident was never told and that the injustices that existed before the insurrection were still there.
While extolling the heroism of the American troops, the newspaper article omitted the gruesome details of the “splendid victory.” “Impossible to tell the sexes apart during the fierce battle on top of Mount Dajo. Six hundred men, women, and children gunned down along the rim of the caldera.” As the interminable variations of the story came out of Jolo, those images of the frightened, the crying, those small children clinging to their mothers…. Carlos couldn’t forget that these were children of Sooloo. His list of the dead included brothers and sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts.
Jose (a great great grandson of Carlos) offered 50,000 pesos for his ancestor’s estate. The first 10,000 pesos had to go to the Japanese Military Mission on Basilan simply for the privilege of moving his whole family to the island. He looked forwarded to the view of the tiny beach so familiar to his great great grandfather. But before he did anything he introduced himself to the turbaned Sultan and his high advisers.
As a young man, the Sultan made trouble for the Americans; otherwise he wouldn’t have secured peace and order. Naturally, he also made trouble for the Japanese. In defiance Sultan Cali Kiran preserved royal rituals, such as wearing the royal kris; and during a time when positions such as advisers and interpreters were up for sale, he refused to bow with every step. By the time Jose arrival in Jolo, the dividing line between the collaborator and the guerrilla was being erased and people were carrying on their lives as best they could.
The beliefs of Cali (a great great grandson of Omar) were naturally tied to Sulu traditions of bravery and resistance; but due to the strength of the enemy, he had to acknowledge his limitations. But the Juramentados remained active (as they had been against the Spanish and the Americans) and gained the early respect of the Japanese. Their frenzy seemed closely allied in many respects to kamikaze pilots. But by then, the panditas’ universal call for a jihad had failed and many of the Muslim leaders had been killed, were confined to quarters, or were sent off to concentration camps. Besides, once the Japanese controlled the island, what could be gained from overt resistance?
It must not be assumed that Cali’s open dealings with the authorities made him a collaborationist. One of the most devout and patriotic Muslims, Cali took personal pride in having risked his life in the defense of the island. However, rather than die in a blaze of machine gun glory, he chose to live to fight again.
To acquire the hacienda Jose not only went to the Japanese, but also did so knowing that he would be labeled a sympathizer. Even rumors then could lead to reprisals. Complicating things was also the guerrilla attitude toward private property. In an argument with himself, Jose always maintained that he had a right to the property, so in his mind he never violated a declaration by the guerrillas that said, “transfer of ownership of real properties during this period of the emergency was illegal.” But it seemed reprehensible to Jose that he had to pay off the Military Command.
The Japanese acted as if they were gods…. a nation of gods….of the Samurai….of the Divine Emperor. In reality, there were a variety of impressions of the invader, ranging from a hate-seared narrative about hordes of barbarians armed with modern implements of destruction to liberators. There also were voices of doom who accomplished very little, if anything at all, because their diatribes seldom helped. The rise of the stoolie or hireling happened early on, clearly giving the shivers to innocent people.
It was never proved that Jose became a stoolie, but after the war, suspicions surface that carried over to his sons, dirt that initially came from his great great grandfather. Throughout the war, even when everyone seemed most jittery, nothing came to light to resolve any of the questions that were raised. No records existed. There was no proof against Jose that would show he was a puppet, or anything to show that he was the same as his great great grandfather.
No one had to actually tell Cali that until freed from the United States that his country was still paying a price for having been freed from Spain. No one had to tell him about the price they were paying to the Japanese. He saw their brutality.
Among Moros, the question over who was the greatest warrior inevitably arose. Who could hurl five spears at once? Or who could cut the best, who could stab the hardest, and who could throw a spear farther than anyone else? Sometimes they fought among themselves but not all of them. Why would the weakest fight? Was it simply a way of testing their strength and sharpening their skills, or was it more of a test? Was it to see who would lead them?
Among the Japanese, the question arose what happened to their men who wandered away from the town and never returned. What happened to their men when they were caught out after dark and why on the island there were many more women than there were men?